pay per click ppcIn digital marketing, if you wish to reach broader audiences, sooner or later you are going to have to advertise. There are many ways to do that, and pay per click is one of the most famous -and effective- models. But what it is, exactly? How does it work? What are its advantages? Does it have any disadvantages? In this article, we will answer these questions and many more.

Here is all you want to know about pay per click advertising model:

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click advertising is a digital advertising model in which brands place ads on online platforms -such as websites, and mobile apps- and only pay the publishers if their ads are clicked on. Offered primarily by search engines and social networks, it is a very important concept in digital marketing and a preferred advertising model for brands of all scales.

How Does PPC Work?

The main idea behind PPC ads is this: brands pay for website visits, which is the complete opposite of organic traffic. Each time a user clicks on an ad and visits the brand’s website, the brand pays a certain amount.

To better understand how PPC ads works, here are a few key concepts that you should know about:

CPC – Cost-per-click: Basically, CPC is the price the advertiser pays for a single click on its ad. This price can be fixed or can be determined via auction. If there is an auction, each advertiser establishes a bid (which is basically the maximum amount they are willing to pay for a click), then the system compares these bids, and the winning bid is shown in the first place.

CTR – Click Through Rate: CTR is the percentage of users that actually click on the ad, out of everyone who has seen the ad. So, as CTR increases, it means the ad is performing better.

Segmentation: In the PPC model, advertisers have the ability to segment their audience, basically to decide who gets to see their ads. Segmentation is done based on factors such as location, age, gender, interests, behavior, etc. The idea behind this is to show the ads only to those who have a high chance of clicking on them.

Impression: Any view an ad receives is called an impression. Does not matter if the users click on the ad or not.

Landing page: A landing page is a webpage that users are redirected to once they click on a PPC ad. The main purpose of a landing page is to bring conversions -such as a purchase, a reservation, or a sign-up- to the brand.

Frequency: Frequency is basically the number of times each ad is displayed to a certain user, during a specific time period.

Pay-per-click ads can be -and are- used for all kinds of campaign goals, such as generating leads, boosting sales, or increasing brand awareness. They are primarily based on popular keywords people use in their searches. Sponsored links in Google search results pages are good examples of this:

Whenever you search for a product or a service, you will notice related sponsored links at the top of the page, above the organic results. Those are the PPC results for brands that have paid for the keyword(s) you have searched. This way, pay-per-click ads help advertisers to target a very specific audience to promote their products and/or services while helping the users by presenting them with offers related to their searches that might actually interest them.

Types of PPC Ads

Now you know what pay-per-click ads are, let’s take a look at different types of PPCs:

Search Ads

Search ads are those that appear on top -and bottom- of organic search results. They usually contain text and no images.

Display Ads

Another popular type of PPC ad; display ads appear on websites, and they usually include a photo and text.

Social Ads

As the name suggests, these ads are those that appear on people’s social media feeds on various platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Google Shopping Ads

Another type of Google Ads, Shopping Ads appear in carousel form, again, above the organic search results. These allow users to see the products -and their prices- before visiting the advertiser’s website.

Remarketing Ads

Remarketing ads are used to reengage the audience that have visited a brand’s website, but did not convert. It is a way of getting them to think about your brand/products/services again. They are based on Google’s remarketing code (tracking pixel) which helps advertisers to know what exactly the audience views on their websites, so they can be segmented based on their actions, for better targeting.

Gmail Sponsored Ads

As you would guess, these pay-per-click ads allow business owners to advertise on Gmail! Gmail Sponsored Ads can be created using Google Ads. These ads will look like regular e-mails in the receivers’ inboxes, and they will expand once the user clicks on the ad. And there, the user will have the option to visit the advertisers’ site.

Amazon Ads

The number one e-commerce platform in the world with more than 2 billion visits every month, Amazon is where every e-commerce business wants to be. But, with millions and millions of products online, it might get difficult to get noticed for small business owners. That’s why Amazon offers paid advertising to businesses.

How to Create a PPC Campaign?

This should be an article in itself -with all the different platforms and types of PPCs- but to give you a general idea, here are the main steps advertisers need to take when creating a PPC campaign:

  1. Determine Your Goals – Define your goals clearly before starting; what do you mainly want? Clicks? Sales? Sign-ups? This will help you choose your PPC platforms and types wisely.
  2. Decide on an Ad Platform – Decide on which platform you are going to reach your audience.
  3. Make a Keyword List – Keywords are what connect you to your audience, so make extensive keyword research.
  4. Target Your Audience – Your ads need to match your audience if you wish to get results. Use all the insight to do an effective targeting for your ads.
  5. Optimize Your Landing Pages – Your landing pages should be in line with your ads/keywords/goals. Make sure they are designed to convert.
  6. Create Your Ads – Create the ads that are going to be displayed to your audience.
  7. Analyze & Optimize – Always track the performance of your ads and make optimizations if necessary.

PPC vs. PPM vs. PPA

Obviously, pay-per-click is not the only model of online advertising campaigns. To avoid any confusion, we will briefly mention two other popular models, PPM and PPA.

PPM (Payment Per Thousand) – In this model of advertising, the advertiser has to pay a fixed amount of money for every thousand impressions.

PPA (Payment Per Acquisition) – As the name kind of makes it clear, in this model, the advertiser has to pay every time a user takes a specific action- like signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

Popular PPC Platforms

If you wish to create pay-per-click marketing campaigns, there are a lot of online platforms you can do that. Here are some of the most popular PPC platforms:

Google Ads

With its global reach, the biggest name in the PPC game without a question. You will have the opportunity to reach billions of searches daily. Downside? It is -as you would imagine- quite competitive!


The social media giant offers advertisers a PPC network with an exceptional targeting potential- imagine all the data they have! It is true that the platform is no stranger to controversy, but still, it is among the most popular choices for advertisers.

Microsoft Ads

Also known as “Bing” ads, Microsoft is another big player in the PPC scene. Bing, being a search engine itself, also offers SERPs (search engine result pages) and shows on MSN, Yahoo, and AOL as well.


LinkedIn is a social network for professionals from all industries, and it has a large audience of educated people with different specialties from around the globe. So, if you wish to reach business leaders with your pay-per-click campaigns, LinkedIn is one of your best bets, if not the best!


With its very high CTR and roughly a billion active users, Instagram is a very lucrative platform for pay-per-click advertising as well. Especially if your target audience is millennials, you cannot overlook the power of Instagram!


Still one of the most popular social networks, Twitter remains a very high-performing PPC network for advertisers. It is still the platform of choice for many, although no one is sure how the recent controversy with Elon Mush might affect things.

Advantages of PPC Advertising

There are a lot of advantages to pay-per-click advertising. Here are the main ones:

  • No unnecessary payments: As we have said before, advertisers only pay for the clicks they get, which means there will be no unnecessary payments. So, if you are looking for a cost-effective advertising model, you should definitely consider PPC!
  • Ads will reach the right audience: Thanks to segmentation and targeting, brands will not be wasting their money on people who are not interested in their products and/or services. With successful targeting, the ads will be shown only to the people who are actually interested in them!
  • Performance is highly measurable: You can easily measure the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. This way, you will be able to determine the return on your investment!
  • Fast results: If you want fast results, PPC would be a great choice in most cases, as you are going to see the impact of your campaigns almost immediately.
  • A lot of optimization options: If your ads are not giving you the results you were expecting, no need to worry! You can easily optimize them, and even work on them in real-time to get the results you are desiring!
  • Flexibility – With pay-per-click ads, you will be able to decide where and when your ads are going to show. This will give you the chance to better target your campaigns.
  • A wealth of data – Impression, click, and conversion data you are going to receive from your targeted keywords in PPC can be effectively used in SEO operations, as well as content marketing.

Disadvantages of PPC Advertising

As profitable as it is, there are still certain disadvantages to per-pay-click ad campaigns. Whether they are important for you or not, you will be the one to decide! Here are the disadvantages of PPC:

  • Needs time – Just setting up a PPC campaign and letting it run by itself is not enough, unfortunately. To get the best results, you better be ready to spend time monitoring and optimizing your campaigns.
  • Needs some skill – Although you don’t really need to be a marketing guru, to get the best results, you certainly do need some skill and experience in digital marketing. This is why many brands work with experts or agencies.
  • Costs can add up before you know it – As we have said before, you need to monitor and optimize your campaigns. If you don’t follow them closely, costs can add up before you know it. Allocating a certain budget for PPC and sticking to that is strongly advised.


The digital scene is highly competitive, and brands are doing their best to get ahead in the game. Search engine optimization is a must for the long-term success of every website, but if you wish to get quick results by appearing in front of your competition, PPC ads are definitely among your best bets. So if you have a marketing budget, you can certainly spend some of it on pay-per-click ads, and with good targeting, you will most likely get the results you desire!